The happiest country in the world

When I read that my birth country of Finland had been declared the happiest country in the world in a UN report, I snorted with laughter.

As a Finn living in the UK, the most common stereotypes regarding my birth country are quite positive: Moomins, Father Christmas and Nokia. I’m proud of my heritage, appreciate the education I received there and am always happy to come back to visit my family a couple of times a year. But I’d never move back.

People often find this perplexing, especially after it was declared as the happiest country in the world. Why wouldn’t I want to live there? Because I know that Finland is not, and has never been, the happiest country in the world.

Every day, eight people take retirement due to depression. 700 of them are young people. Almost 3000 people a year in a country of only 5,5 million. Only one in ten will ever return to work.

“It seems that there are gaps in the system,” a newspaper article containing this information declared.

You think?

The truth is that Finland does not, and has never, cared about its mentally unwell citizens.

A few years ago as many as 1,800 young people took early retirement due to mental health issues. Most of these cases could’ve been prevented with adequate treatment and early intervention.

Apparently this isn’t alarming enough, so shall we take a look at some of the events in recent history: Two school shootings, a bomb at a mall in 2002 by a young man who had been showing signs of depression, the horrible murder of a young girl I told about in ‘A girl who could’ve been me’ and these are only cases where mental health issues have been showcased in the media to have played some kind of part. I’m sure there are many, many, many more.

Every single time something like this has happened, inadequate mental health care has been brought up. Every single time. Still nothing seems to happen. Politicians rave about it until the media chaos dies down. Then we’re back to normal. Until next time somebody gets killed. If the person only kills themselves, it will go unnoticed altogether. This is because Finland couldn’t give a toss about mental health treatment. That might be the gap in the system the article was trying to find.

The reason this makes me so angry is because all of this could be preventable. The clue was in the earlier piece. Adequate treatment and early prevention. It seems like that in the happiest country in the world you have to be on the brink of suicide before you get taken seriously.

One of my relatives was recently re-hospitalised after she was let out too early because a couple of days after she was sent home, she drank bleach. Well I’m glad that it became clear to everyone involved that she indeed needs to be there.

A carer who had seen her the night before she did this said: “I was wondering a bit, because she seemed a lot more quieter. She’s usually very chatty.”

Well I’m glad you decided not to pursue this sudden change in behaviour any further.

The article I’m referring to was mostly concerned about the costs this causes to the society and how only one in ten ever return to work. That’s where the problem lies in my opinion. People are reduced as numbers. As loss of workforce, as billions of euros in costs caused by these retirements. The burden these selfish ill people are placing on our society.

I’m no expert but I’d be thinking why in the Lord Buddha’s name have we got such a rampant epidemic of mental illness that eight people a day need to take retirement because of it?!

I may have found that aforementioned ‘gap in the system’: It’s called total and utter lack of empathy.

The happiest country in the world also boasts of high suicide rates. It has been stated that around two people kill themselves in Finland every day. The most recent number I found was from 2016, and 787 suicides were committed that year. Suicide is the most common cause of death in young men. About 90 percent of young people who have committed suicide had suffered of some form of mental health issue, half of them of depression. In suicides committed by women, a large number were committed by those aged under 25.

Again, let’s take into account that the country’s entire population could fit into London twice.

Finland was the first country to use a suicide prevention program. However, it has been said to be ‘outdated and forgotten.’

If a program that has been created so that desperate people would not kill themselves is allowed to be forgotten, I think the expenses caused by retirement are not exactly our number one concern here.

But hey, when a person has enough sense to just off themselves, they won’t be demanding retirement payments or causing any trouble or expenses to the society ever again. And that’s what at the end of the day serves the happiest country in the world the best, right?

A human life has no value in Finland, and that is the number one reason why I would never come back.


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